I'm only about four months after my mother's death. In the time that her health was declining, Hallmark films and Hallmark holiday films became a treasured activity that we shared.
As we creep into this first holiday without her, I decided to kick off my holiday season with "Finding Father Christmas," a film that practically defines what it means to be a Hallmark Christmas film.
"Finding Father Christmas" has a little tragedy. It has a little soul searching. It has a little romance. It has secrets that will, of course, be revealed. It has a picturesque setting - in this case Vermont. It has a central character who is successful yet wounded, beautiful yet doesn't quite realize it. It has, of course, your typical Hallmark happy ending.
"Finding Father Christmas" offers just about everything you could possibly want from a Hallmark holiday film.
One of the things I most grew to appreciate when watching Hallmark holiday films was the presence of tenderness that so radiates from them. The same is true here. Miranda Chester (Erin Krakow) was a little girl when her mother, Eve (Jessie Fraser), was killed during a tragic accident while performing in the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol."
Needless to say, Miranda is not one who possesses the Christmas spirit. However, refreshingly, she's not particularly Grinch-like. She simply seems to numb herself to get through the season.
However, an unexpected discovery leads her to the idyllic Vermont town of Carlton Heath where she hopes to discover the answers to long-held questions and to perhaps find a little more peace in her life.
We all know how this is going to go. In the hands of Krakow, however, it's quite the joy getting there. Despite its dabbling in serious subject matter, "Finding Father Christmas" avoids high dramatics and there are only fleeting moments of melancholy. There isn't a "bad guy" served up here. There's a young woman seeking answers who, remarkably graciously, is almost stunning in her hesitation to disrupt the idyllic town she visits when she starts putting some of her pieces together.
This is a warm-hearted, generous spirited, and truly tender film that I enjoyed from beginning to end. Krakow is wonderful as is Niall Matter as Ian, Miranda's soon to be beau and your typical Hallmark small town former lawyer turned handyman type of guy who also happens to be ridiculously handsome and kind.
Wendie Malick is the most "known" cast member here and while her appearance is relatively brief it's also incredibly meaningful. Malick gives it the appropriate gravitas.
"Finding Father Christmas" is an ideal holiday film for folks for whom the holidays bring mixed emotions and a not so festive response. It offers a nice reminder that it's never too late to find Father Christmas.